On 1 September 2015, WCLAC along with partner organizations, met with the Palestinian Minister of Justice, Mr. Saleem Al Saqqa to discuss the establishment of a Special Inheritance Department within the Ministry of Justice. This initiative is part of an EU funded project currently being implemented by WCLAC and partner organizations to ensure that women’s rights under the existing law are respected. The first stage of the project was completed in 2014 with the publication of a study: Palestinian Women and Inheritance.
The legal position in Palestine relating to inheritance is based on Sharia law. The current position is that a female is only entitled to half of what her brother inherits on the death of their father, and the widow only receives one-eighth. In practice, women often receive even less than these limited legal entitlements due to social pressure to give up their inheritance rights in favour of male family members.
The recent initiative to create a Special Inheritance Department does not aim at this stageto change the law, but is designed to ensure that women do at leastreceive their limited legal entitlements under existing provisions. By making it mandatory for all inheritance claims to be processed by the Department, it is hoped to reduce the level of social pressure that women currently face to relinquish their rights.
Following a presentation by WCLAC’s General Director, Ms. RandaSiniora, the Minister welcomed the initiative and stated that it was worth further in-depth examination. WCLAC will continue its efforts to meet with official duty bearers to work towards establishing the department. Through a petition, WCLAC will rally different stakeholders to advocate for the department.